The Fall of Ryan Lochte

By Dharmalingam_CML

When one is a public figure, whether political, athlete or otherwise, very few situations can be as embarrassing as being caught in a lie. When you are caught lying about a crime that causes embarrassment to an already crime-ridden nation to, the backlash is ten fold. The story of Ryan Lochte doesn’t begin here, but may just end here.

The question is WHY? Why did he feel the need to not only lie but continue the lie when he had an opportunity to fess up?

Let’s begin with the story Ryan Lochte told Billy Bush on Access Hollywood.

According to Lochte, he a three teammates from Team U.S.A. Swimming were in a taxi headed back to the Olympic Village after a night of partying at some local nightclubs.

“We got pulled over in the taxi and these guys came out with a badge. They flashed a police badge, no lights, no nothing just a police badge and they pulled us over. They pulled out their guns. They told the other swimmers to get down on the ground – they got down on the ground. I refused and then the guy pulled out his gun. He cocked it, put it to my forehead and said get down and I put my hands up. I was like whatever. He took our money, my wallet, my cell phone, and left my credentials.”

There had already been instances of robbery against other Olympic athletes, but this was an athlete from the UNITED STATES. A well-known and well-respected Olympic swimmer, although known to be a partier, not known for a sharp mind, so many believed the swimmers account. However, Rio Officials claimed Ryan’s story was not true and issued the following statement:

“The problem is that footage from an x-ray machine reveals that both of them had the items on them when they were scanned. The same items they claimed had been stolen. They said they had been robbed at gunpoint, but then the evidence suggested they had not been robbed.”

Lochte’s claims continued and de denied any exaggeration on his part. His teammates seemingly backup his story, however holes began to emerge and questions as to the validity of the claim stared. Where were they where robbed? How did Lochte have such disregard for a man with a gun? Why did he and his teammates seem to be in such good spirits when they entered Olympic Village as a later released security video showed?

The unraveling of Lochte’s story was swift and his public relations nightmare began. He was immediately dropped from four major sponsors, which included Speedo, Polo Ralph Lauren, Gentle Hair Removal and mattress maker Airweave. All said they would be cutting ties with Lochte after the swimmer admitted to lying about being robbed at gunpoint while in Rio.

After intense scrutiny and several pieces of evidence disproving his claim, Lochte finally admitted to over-exaggerating the robbery. The question is WHY. Why did he feel the need for this elaborate story and has he learned anything from it?

According to Forbes, at the peak of his popularity during the 2012 Olympics in London, Lochte held endorsement deals with companies like Gatorade, Mutual of Omaha and Nissan, earning an estimated $2 million annually. Among male American swimmers, his public profile is surpassed only by teammate Michael Phelps, the most decorated Olympian in history. Lochte even parlayed his popularity into a brief reality how on E! “What Would Ryan Lochte Do?” in 2013.

Aside from sponsorships, many successful former Olympians parlay their fame into a lifetime of lucrative public appearances. For Lochte, that option may now be off the table.

“This will cost him millions over the course of his future life, in ad deals, speaking engagements [and] appearance fees,” said Bob Dorfman, a sports sponsorship expert and creative director at Baker Street Advertising. “Maybe he can turn this into a learning experience for future athletes, writing a “how not-to” book. His apology has come too late; he didn’t own up immediately, when he most definitely should have.”